The Falcon Flies Alone
by Gabrielle Mathieu
GENRE: Historical fantasy
Gabrielle Mathieu will be awarding a $20 Amazon/BN GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour. Please visit GoddessFish.com to follow the tour, remember the more you comment better your chances on winning.
As the sun rises on a quiet Swiss mountain village in 1957, runaway Peppa Mueller wakes up naked and stranded on the roof of her employer’s manor, with no idea how she got there. As she waits for help, she struggles to piece together fragmented memories of the previous night. Did she really witness the brutal massacre of a local family? Did she kill them? Her fear of sinister house guest Dr. Unruh fuels her panic—as do electrifying flashes of a furious falcon, trapped inside her.
Wanted for murder, Peppa flees the police, intent on finding out if there’s a scientific explanation or if she’s just going mad. Her godfather, world-renowned chemist Dr. Kaufmann, risks his career to help her. In the meantime, Peppa fights her attraction to the handsome priest from India who offers her shelter. With their help, she not only finds Dr. Unruh but places herself at his mercy. His experiments may be the reason Peppa now shares her body with a bloodthirsty bird of prey—but the revenge she plans could kill them both.
NOTE: The book will be on sale for only $0.99 during the tour.
I took out the illustrated book about birds of prey, wondering if Silvia had been researching hawks because of Horus, the hawk-headed god. I flipped idly past owls and vultures, until I came to the sections on falcons. A full-page illustration of a peregrine caught my eye.
She was buff -colored with gray barring along her legs and chest. The head was slate-colored, her eyes large and profound, the darkness of them more pronounced by the light rim around them. The artist had captured her in full flight, her wings outspread and the tail feathers fanned around her tucked claws.
A stab of yearning—where was she going?
Seconds passed, then minutes. I couldn’t look away from her. A conviction seized me that if I looked into the mirror, I would see her curved beak and piercing eyes instead of my homely features.
I could not face my reflection. Instead, I forced my trembling hand to graze my nose, my cheeks, my eyelids. Familiar. Ordinary.
I slammed the book shut and pushed it to the bottom of the satchel.
Q & A with Gabrielle Mathieu
What inspires you?
Travel inspires me. It’s hard to say whether the locales inspire the book’s setting, or vice-versa. For my first book, I started out just researching nearby areas in Switzerland, where I live. I looked for a remote village in an alpine setting, where the terrifying experiment takes place in my novel. Most of those places have barely changed since the fifties, and it was easy to imagine my recently orphaned heroine stepping off the train in the village of Gonten, uncertain and desperate.
I knew my third book in the series, The Falcon Soars, would take place in the Himalayas, since it would relate to Peppa’s romantic history with Tenzin Engler, who comes from India. For that book, I actually ended up traveling to Nepal and hiking up to Annapurna base camp, so I could share some of Peppa Mueller’s physical exertion. I never did find a real-life Tenzin though, which my husband probably appreciated. You can read about our real-life adventure .
What do your plans for future projects include?
From reading this, you’ve probably gathered that the Falcon series is finished for now, though I might resurrect it if there’s popular demand. I’ve delved back into an earlier series, a more traditional epic fantasy. Young Berona lives in a world of religious zealots who oppress women by exalting their fecundity. Genetically diverse races, now hostile to humans, live underground or in trees. My villainess, the Water Dragon, is an ancient wraith who has been extant since the beginning to the world. I’ve incorporated five element theory, the basis of feng-shui, into that series.
Do you ever get writer’s Block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
I don’t get writer’s block, but sometimes things stagnate, and I’m not engaged by my character’s activities. I have two stand-bys, maybe three, though the last one is a bit of a guilty secret. My very favorite thing is to go for a long walk in the pine woods, which are ten minutes away from our house. I even have a headlamp for those long, foggy winter nights. The Swiss are very inventive when it comes to hiking gear, and the woods are absolutely safe, especially since my pit bull baby comes with me. I also find music very helpful. I have a up for my first book, and am working on one for The Falcon Strikes, which takes place in Ireland in 1958.
The guilty secret—a glass of wine. It has to be good wine, preferably a slightly effervescent white from Switzerland, or else a glass of the red Austrian wine called Zweigelt, which is similar to a Zinfandel in taste and complexity.
Have you ever had one character you wanted to go one way with but after the book was done the character was totally different?
I’ll say. Peppa’s sidekick, a Phd candidate in chemistry, started out as Carlton, the gawky son of a British earl, who she believes has sex with her when she’s drunk. (Our Peppa is a very contemporary girl, for 1957, due to having been brought up by an absent-minded father). By the third rewrite he became Emil Nussbaum, the troubled Jewish son of divorced parents, who has a permanent chip on his shoulder, and a grudge to settle with Peppa. Emil has a bigger role to play in the third book. He’s a little begrudging and calculating, but he has a good heart.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Gabrielle Mathieu lived on three continents by the age of eight. She’d experienced the bustling bazaars of Pakistan, the serenity of Swiss mountain lakes, and the chaos of the immigration desk at the JFK airport. Perhaps that’s why she developed an appetite for the unusual and disorienting. Her fantasy books are grounded in her experience of different cultures and interest in altered states of consciousness (mostly white wine and yoga these days). The Falcon Flies Alone is her debut novel.